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The reality of war may be hell, but the popularity of playing armchair general on the PC means there’s no shortage of fictional confrontations for your digital toy soldiers to fight in. Command and Conquer Generals is another game in the popular Command and Conquer franchise. Somewhat controversially, the game allows you to play as either the yee-haw world police of America, the propaganda using, nuke wielding Chinese or the terrorist organization the Global Liberation Army. Each army has its own unique weapons and structures, giving the game plenty of replay value.
Command and Conquer Generals should install on a modern PC without any insubordination. Simply insert the CD into your optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If you have the Zero Hour expansion disc you should install that too and the game will give you the option to play either the original game or the expansion when you start it.
Before starting to play, make sure that you install the latest patch for the game. The latest patch is version 1.08 and can be downloaded here (Use the big brown “Download Now” button). If you also have the Zero Hour expansion pack, you should download and install the Zero Hour 1.04 patch by using this link. Both patches should install without any difficulties on a modern PC. If you have a later release of this game, such as the Command and Conquer – The First Decade box set, you may not need these patches, but if you try to apply them it won’t do any harm, so we recommend downloading and installing them regardless of which version you have. When you start the game, go to the options menu and at the bottom of the window you will be able to see the current version of the game (which should match the version of the patch you installed).
Tweaking visual quality
Before you lead your virtual troops into battle, there’s one or two settings you might want to reconfigure. Start the game and from the main menu go to Options. Firstly, choose a screen resolution that most closely matches your monitors native resolution. If you have a Widescreen monitor, you will be unable to set widescreen resolutions from this menu. In this case, leave the resolution menu alone for now, we will set the screen resolution later. All other options on this page can be set according to your preferences.
If you have a modern PC, you may wish to tweak the advanced options. Under the detail menu, click on ‘Custom’. The Advanced Display Options will then be displayed. On a modern PC you can turn on all options and set all the sliders to the maximum. If you find the game runs too slowly after doing this, gradually reduce the number of options on this screen.
Command and Conquer Generals actually runs pretty well on widescreen monitors, but you will need to edit an ini file in order to set the correct screen mode. Open your documents folder (on Windows 7 and 8, this should be under C:\Users\(your username)\Documents). In this folder, there should then be a folder called “Command and Conquer Generals Data”. Open this folder and locate a file called Options.ini. Right click on Options.ini and choose “edit”. The file should open in Notepad (or the default editor on your PC). Locate the line that reads “Resolution =”. Change the numbers at the end of this line so that they match your screen resolution, for instance for a 1080p monitor use “Resolution = 1920 1080”. For a 720p display, the line should read “Resolution = 1280 720” (do not include the quotation marks). For other resolutions, simply substitute the numbers for those relevant for your monitor. Make sure to save the file when you are done editing it.
You might want to make a backup copy of this file now, before you start playing, just in case the game overwrites any of the custom settings you have applied.
You are now ready to play the game, start the game as normal from the short-cut and go blow things up!
Multiplayer for Command and Conquer Generals was originally maintained by Gamespy. This service is now defunct. However, it’s still possible to play the game online. Using a service called Game Ranger is an easy way to restore online capabilities to the title. Using the Game Ranger program it’s easy to set up a multiplayer game. Simply create a room for either Command and Conquer Generals or Zero Hour, invite your friends and then start the game. Once the game starts, the host should manually click on “Multiplayer” and then on “Direct Connection”. Through the magic of Game Ranger the other players should then join automatically and battle can commence.
DirectX error on startup or “Please Install DirectX” message:-Check that you have entered a valid resolution in your options.ini file. Of course, make sure you have installed the latest DirectX end-user runtimes from Microsoft too (yes, even if you have Windows 7 or 8).
Sorry, a serious error occurred:- This problem can occur on some PC’s. A possible fix is to run the game in compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 2) or compatibility mode for Windows Vista. This error can also occur if you modified the Options.ini file incorrectly or selected a screen-mode that your PC doesn’t support.
If you still have issues, try downloading our pre-made options.ini file here (link broken? Let me know here). Unzip this file, then copy it to “C:\Users\(your username)\Documents\Command and Conquer Generals Data, overwriting the existing file if it is present. Now, try running the game again. You will need to reset your screen resolution but otherwise all options should be pre-configured for modern PCs.
Cursor moves too fast in-game:- Remember you can change the scroll speed from the Options menu. On newer, faster PC’s this may need to be reduced significantly.